CRISPR: uncovering clues with off-target therapeutic implications

Bacteria put up a good fight: ask anyone who’s ever had a strep infection. Yet bacteria can be vulnerable too, especially when they encounter their nemesis of the micro world; the bacteriophage, which hijacks bacterial machinery for propagation. Fortunately, bacteria are armed with their own brand of superhero powers, their CRISPR/Cas immune system, which they wield to fend off pesky invaders.

Inspired by bacteria, enter CRISPR technology: a way to “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Exploiting bacterial defense mechanisms has led to the development of CRISPR technology for gene editing and identification. CRISPR has become a popular research tool in the fight against cancer, neurological disease, heart failure, and other rare conditions in desperate need of new therapeutic options. With new technology, however, comes new questions: one being how to best to monitor possible off-target effects that might arise from experimental manipulations and determine the factors that contribute? This is not an easy question to answer....

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